Control of mRNA translation and degradation has been shown to be key in the development of complex organisms. The core mRNA degradation machinery is highly conserved in eukaryotes and relies on processive degradation enzymes gaining access to the mRNA. Control of mRNA stability in eukaryotes is also intimately linked to the regulation of translation. A key question in the control of mRNA turnover concerns the mechanisms whereby particular mRNAs are specifically degraded in response to cellular factors. Recently, microRNAs have been shown to bind specifically to mRNAs and regulate their expression via repression of translation and/or degradation. To understand the molecular mechanisms during microRNA repression of mRNAs, it is necessary to identify their biologically relevant targets. However, computational methods have so far proved unreliable, therefore verification of biologically important targets at present requires experimental analysis. The present review aims to outline the mechanisms of mRNA degradation and then focus on the role of microRNAs as factors affecting particular Drosophila developmental processes via their post-transcriptional effects on mRNA degradation and translation. Examples of experimentally verified targets of microRNAs in Drosophila are summarized.

You do not currently have access to this content.